two telehandlers in our shed

Tractor Front Loader vs Telehandler: Pros, Cons and Financing

Choosing between a tractor front loader and a telehandler is a crucial decision for many farmers. Each piece of equipment comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, which can significantly impact productivity, efficiency, and overall operations. Let’s delve into the pros and cons of both the tractor front loader and the used telehandler:

Tractor Front Loader Suitability

A tractor front loader is well-suited for various types of farming enterprises, especially those that require versatile equipment for everyday tasks. Here are some farming enterprises where a tractor front loader can be particularly beneficial:

a tractor with front loader
Tractor front loaders can be very useful for lifting heavy materials around the farm.
  1. Small to Medium-Sized Farms: Tractor front loaders are often preferred by small to medium-sized farms due to their affordability and versatility. These farms typically have a range of tasks, from loading and unloading materials to light construction work, where a front loader can be invaluable.
  2. Livestock Farms: Farms that raise livestock, such as cattle, sheep, or pigs, can benefit greatly from a tractor front loader. Front loaders are essential for tasks like feeding, mucking out stalls, and handling bales of hay or silage.
  3. Mixed Farms: Farms that engage in mixed crop and livestock operations can find tractor front loaders indispensable. They can assist with a variety of tasks, including loading harvested crops, moving equipment, and handling livestock-related chores.
  4. Speciality Crop Farms: While specialized equipment may be necessary for certain crops, many speciality crop farms still find tractor front loaders useful for general farm maintenance, transporting materials, and managing storage areas.
  5. Market Gardens and Horticulture: Farms focused on market gardening, fruit orchards, or horticulture can utilize tractor front loaders for tasks such as moving compost, loading harvested produce, and general farm maintenance.
  6. Landscaping and Nursery Operations: Businesses involved in landscaping, tree nurseries, or garden centres often rely on tractor front loaders for transporting soil, mulch, plants, and other landscaping materials.

Telehander Suitability

A telehandler can be particularly well-suited for specific agricultural enterprises where tasks involve lifting heavy loads to considerable heights or reaching materials over obstacles. Here are some agricultural contexts where a telehandler can prove highly beneficial:

Telehandlers provide much more stability than tractor front loaders.
  1. Large-Scale Crop Farms: Farms with extensive crop operations, such as large fields of grain or extensive acreage of cash crops like soybeans or corn, may find telehandlers advantageous. They can efficiently handle tasks like loading and unloading grain bins, stacking bales of hay or straw, and transporting large quantities of harvested crops.
  2. Livestock Operations with Tall Storage: Livestock farms that require access to tall storage areas, such as silos or high-stacked bales of hay or straw, can benefit from a telehandler’s ability to reach elevated heights. They are useful for tasks like loading feed into silos, stacking hay or straw bales in barns, and reaching materials stored at height.
  3. Specialized Crop Farms Requiring High Clearance: Farms growing speciality crops that require high-clearance equipment, such as vineyards or orchards with tall trees, can utilize telehandlers for tasks like pruning, harvesting, and transporting produce. Their ability to reach heights while maintaining stability makes them valuable in these settings.
  4. Nurseries and Greenhouses: Agricultural businesses involved in nursery operations, greenhouse cultivation, or ornamental plant production can benefit from telehandlers for tasks like loading and unloading materials, transporting potted plants, and arranging inventory at different levels within the greenhouse or nursery.
  5. Vertical Farming Operations: With the rise of vertical farming methods, where crops are grown in stacked layers or vertically inclined structures, telehandlers offer an efficient means of transporting materials and equipment between levels. They can assist with loading trays of seedlings, moving growing media, and managing equipment in multi-level farming setups.

Pros and Cons of Tractor Front Loaders:


  1. Versatility: Tractor front loaders are incredibly versatile and can perform a wide range of tasks such as lifting, digging, grading, and material handling. They are suitable for various applications on the farm or construction site.
  2. Ease of Use: Front loaders are relatively straightforward to operate, making them ideal for operators with varying levels of experience. They are user-friendly and intuitive, requiring minimal training.
  3. Lower Initial Cost: In general, tractor front loaders tend to be more affordable upfront compared to telehandlers. This lower initial cost makes them accessible to smaller farms and construction businesses with budget constraints.


  1. Limited Reach and Height: One of the main drawbacks of front loaders is their limited reach and height capabilities. They may struggle with tasks that require lifting materials to significant heights or reaching over obstacles.
  2. Less Stability: Front loaders, especially when fully extended, can be less stable compared to telehandlers. This limitation can affect safety and efficiency, particularly when lifting heavy loads or operating on uneven terrain.

Pros and Cons of Telehandlers:


  1. Extended Reach: Telehandlers are renowned for their extended reach capabilities, thanks to their telescopic booms. They can reach higher and farther compared to front loaders, making them suitable for tasks requiring vertical or horizontal reach.
  2. High Lifting Capacity: Telehandlers boast impressive lifting capacities, allowing them to handle heavier loads with ease. This feature is particularly advantageous in construction and industrial settings where heavy materials need to be lifted and moved.
  3. Enhanced Stability: Telehandlers generally offer better stability, especially when lifting heavy loads at height. Their lower centre of gravity and wider footprint contributes to increased stability and safety during operation.


  1. Complexity: Telehandlers tend to be more complex machines compared to front loaders. Their intricate hydraulic systems and telescopic booms require more maintenance and specialized knowledge for operation and repair.
  2. Higher Initial Cost: Telehandlers typically come with a higher initial investment compared to front loaders. This higher cost may pose a barrier to entry for smaller farms or businesses with limited budgets.
  3. Limited Versatility: While telehandlers excel in specific tasks like lifting and reaching, they may lack the versatility of front loaders. They are not as adept at tasks like digging or grading, limiting their utility in certain applications.

Both tractor front loaders and telehandlers offer unique advantages and drawbacks that should be carefully considered based on the specific needs and requirements of the farm or construction operation. While front loaders may be more cost-effective and versatile, telehandlers excel in extended reach and lifting capacity. Ultimately, the choice between the two depends on factors such as budget, intended use, and operational preferences.

The Cost Of Purchase Example

To calculate the cost of owning a new £10,000 tractor loader versus a £30,000 second-hand loader over a 5-year period, we need to consider several factors, including:

a £30000 JCB telehandler
A £30,000 JCB telehandler
  • Initial Cost: The initial purchase price of the equipment.
  • Interest Rate: The interest rate for financing the equipment.
  • Loan Term: The loan term, which is 5 years in this case.
  • Depreciation: The estimated depreciation of the equipment over the loan term.

Let’s assume an interest rate of 5% per annum for both the new loader and used telehandler.

New £10,000 Tractor Loader:

  • Initial Cost: £10,000
  • Interest Rate: 5% per annum
  • Loan Term: 5 years

Using a simple loan amortization formula, we can calculate the monthly payments:

P = Pv × r × (1 + r)n / ((1 + r)n – 1)


  • P = Monthly payment
  • Pv = Present value (Initial Cost)
  • r = Monthly interest rate (Annual interest rate divided by 12)
  • n = Total number of payments (Loan term in years multiplied by 12)

After calculating, the monthly payment for the new loader is approximately £188.71.

£30,000 Used Telehandler:

  • Initial Cost: £30,000
  • Interest Rate: 5% per annum
  • Loan Term: 5 years

Using the same formula, the monthly payment for the used telehandler is approximately £566.12.

Total Cost of Ownership:

To find the total cost of ownership over 5 years, we multiply the monthly payment by the number of months in 5 years:

For the new loader: £188.71 * 60 = £11,322.60

For the used telehandler: £566.12 * 60 = £33,967.20

In this scenario, while the initial purchase price of the telehandler is higher, the total cost of ownership over 5 years is significantly higher compared to the new loader due to the higher interest payments.

Although it does cost much more to purchase the used telehandler – it is able to perform a vast number of extra duties on the farm, some of which a tractor front loader simply cannot perform. The determining factor of whether you go for a used telehandler or a front loader will depend on the type and amount of work it needs to do.